Saturday, September 8, 2007

Wayback Machine, Part 1: Evil Dead in the Attic

This weekend, instead of writing new stuff I will rescue a couple of my old posts from the Mobius Home Video Forum that were lost in a systems crash. First up, a trip to my attic and its lurking fears in a post from September 3, 2002!

The true aspect ratio of EVIL DEAD --- or --- "There's a print in my attic!"

Some time ago, in response to a Mobius discussion on if Sam Raimi's classic EVIL DEAD was shot and shown "hard-matted" or "open matte", I promised to go to the bottom of things - by physically examining the 35 mm print of said film that happens to reside in my attic! It turned out that I did not have a reason to go up and poke about in the attic until last weekend (and believe me, this is not something you do if you don't have to). So, here in words and pictures, is the full story of what happened THAT... FATEFUL... NIGHT! [cue thunderclaps and maniac laughs!]

So prepare yourselves for the terrible sight...

... awful, isn't it! Here are roughly 30-40 feature films, only cult items, both 16 and 35 mm, some of which are not and may never be on DVD or video. It may look pretty awful but film is sturdy and although the boxes are ragged, the content is usually fine. To give you an idea of what's in there, straight ahead I can see a 35 mm print of LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI with Sonny Chiba; a couple of GODZILLA on beautiful 16 mm; a bunch of trailers and, uh, that's probably some STREETFIGHTER movies, again with Sonny Chiba. A veritable Japanes pile! To the left lurks SHOGUN ASSASSIN in a nice 16 mm print (must have escaped from that other pile!) plus several Jackie Chan features on 35 mm including ARMOUR OF GOD II, CRIME STORY and SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW. Of the less Asian variety we have Fulci's ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS in 35 mm scope, nice prints of cult classics ANGUISH and ZEDER (aka REVENGE OF THE DEAD); there's Warhol/Morrisey/Margheriti's DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN (not 3D, unfortunately) and several Bava goodies on 16 mm including BLACK SABBATH, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (uncut, natch) and HATCHET FOR THE HONEMOON. For the more obscure Euro-horrorists among you, there are some neat rarities on 16 mm: DEMONS OF THE DEAD aka ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS, and a complete print of the classic WHO COULD KILL A CHILD. There's not much in the way of North American films as you've noted, but at least Bigelow's NEAR DARK made it in there somehow.

But that's not why we're here! At the very bottom (of course) we find a copy of EVIL DEAD, here shown with its brother EVIL DEAD II (yeah, I've got that too, so sue me...)

Securely back in the comfort of our home, we open the box with tremling hands...

Yep, it's THAT film all right!

And here we have it! From the opening of reel 4 of this vintage theatrical print of EVIL DEAD, we can see Ash poking around at a graveyard IN GLORIOUS OPEN MATTE! The whole frame is revealed, with no hard matting evident, just as we all suspected. Case closed, my friends! Now excuse me, but I have some tidying up to do...

Read the original post and response on Mobius Home Video Forum (archived by the Wayback Machine)

September 2007 Postscript: I don't have any of those film prints in the attic anymore - a nice man came around one day and loaded them into a car, a metric ton or so of celluloid, much to the joy of my girlfriend... But watch this blog for a Wayback story of what happened to one of the prints, coming soon!


Anonymous said...

I take it the DEMONS OF THE DEAD 16mm print was the TV version of ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK/THEY'RE COMING TO GET YOU.

Lars Erik Holmquist said...

It is the Sergio Martino film, but I'm not sure if it is the TV version - I never had the opportunity to screen it! But 16mm does not always equal cut-down TV edits; for instance our prints of 2000 MANIACS and SHOUGN ASSASSIN were full-strength theatrical versions.